by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The outcome is that the host nation’s Fatima Kazeem received a walk-over and now meets India’s more internationally experienced Mallika Bhandarkar; in the opening round she accounted for Onyinyechi Mbah, like Fatima Kazeem from India (11-8, 11-3, 11-9, 11-8).
Also, the absence of Shao Jieni means a new champion will be crowned; no previous winner is on duty in this year’s Women’s Singles event.
A place in the second round for one Nigerian player; there were places secured by two more; both players with considerable experience and both succeeding at the expense of Ghana.
Olufunke Oshonaike, the no.6 seed and now 41 years of age, recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Celia Baah-Danso (11-13, 11-13, 11-5, 14-12, 11-8, 11-5); Cecila Akpan, ten years younger and required to compete in the qualification phase, accounted for Beatrice Gyasi (11-3, 11-6, 11-7, 11-13, 11-2).
Testing times for Olufunke Oshonaike; for the remaining highly rated, life was less exacting.
In the top half of the draw, Russia’s Olga Kulikova, the no.4 seed, beat Nigerian teenager, Esther Oribamise in four straight games (11-5, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5); likewise, Hungary’s Bernadett Balint, the no.5 seed and Ukraine’s Ganna Farladanska, the no.7 seed, ended the hopes of Nigerian adversaries. Bernadett Balint accounted for Alimot Ayinla (11-4, 11-2, 11-4, 11-6), Ganna Farlandska ended the hopes of Asiaju Bisola (11-6, 11-9, 11-3, 11-8).
Similarly, in the lower half of the draw it was the end of the road for Nigerian aspirants.
Hungary’s Szandra Pergel, the no.2 seed, overcame Agnes Onoja (11-1, 11-6, 11-4, 11-3); Egypt’s Dina Meshref, the no.3 seed, defeated Abosede Odusanya (11-1, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5). Similarly, India’s Krittwika Roy, the no.8 seed, halted the progress of the wife of the top seed in the Men’s Singles event. She beat Ganiyat Aruna (7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-5, 11-3).
The second round of the Women’s Singles event will be played later in the day.